Valuing diversity

Valuing diversity

This year’s freshman class has the most students of color recorded at Grand Valley State University. Though the increase was small, this is a step in the right direction for the university. 

With all of the discontent across the U.S. regarding matters of race, it is important that we surround ourselves with an accepting and educational community. If we create a campus environment that prioritizes and encourages diversity and understanding, this can hopefully then be reflected outside the GVSU community.

Additionally, a college campus is supposed to be a place where opinions, ideas and experiences from all people are present. In order to have truly informational and comprehensive discussions and education, we need to have representation within the student body that reflects the general population of our nation. This university isn’t nearly to that level of diversity, but the class of 2020 is marking a step in the right direction for GVSU.

There is still work to be done in regard to total diversity. In addition to race, GVSU can expand the diversity in terms of gender and sexuality as well.

According to the 2015 Campus Climate Survey, 70 percent of GVSU community members believed GVSU is committed to diversity in 2015, up 8 percent from 2005, when 62 percent of Lakers agreed with the same statement. The Lanthorn hopes the increase in diversity in the student population is a reflection of not only the university’s efforts for inclusion, but also the fact that the word is getting out about GVSU’s commitment for inclusivity.

In addition to the increase in student diversity, 450 registered student organizations exist on campus for the 2016-17 school year, many of which focus specifically on diversity and inclusion. The Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women’s Center and the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center all work together under the Division of Inclusion and Equity to teach intersectionality and provide support to all identities.

Students of color are not the only group of people that can benefit from the increased diversity at GVSU. Students who are white have the opportunity to learn more about different cultures and ethnicities. Throughout the year, students should take advantage of these resources and student organizations to experience different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and upbringings from their own.

Diversity, particularly in an academic setting where the exchange of ideas is vital, is a valuable asset to cultivate and take advantage of. Whether you attend the annual Teach-In or simply sit in on an informational meeting about a race or religion that you are not familiar with, the knowledge gained will benefit more than just you. It is our responsibility as citizens to be informed and respectful individuals. GVSU is giving students the opportunity, it is our job to take the wheel.

As the class of 2020 enters GVSU, students, staff and faculty should be aware of diversity on campus regarding new and returning students, and work together to create a stronger support network for minority populations through training and awareness.